Have you ever thought about the present location of the limousine car that President John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was shot? It was a 1961 Lincoln automobile, that had a convertible top that could be put down. It was solid black, and had the American flag flying on one side of the front hood, and the Presidential flag on the other side. The top was down when it was being driven through the streets of Dallas with the President and the First Lady, the Governor and Mrs. Connelly who were waving at the rows of people along the streets. It was seen by millions of people on national television on that fateful Friday in Dallas, Texas. But where is it now? It’s not in the Smithsonian. So where is it? It was bought by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and placed in Mr. Ford’s museum. That’s the Henry Ford, of the pioneering carmaker fame. It is surrounded by a metal railing fence so it can not be touched. The top is up, and from behind the railing you can not see the seat in the back.
The car is not too far from a very famous city bus with green interior and yellow with green accents on the exterior. The words of the street where the bus is going, Cleveland Ave., is in big letters above the front windshields. The bus is the one that Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to give up her seat to a white man! That helped spark the civil rights movement, which later led to the women’s movement that called for equal pay and rights for all women!
Henry Ford ‘s hero was Abe Lincoln, so many items in the Henry Ford Museum has ties to Lincoln. The Logan County, Illinois courthouse where Abe Lincoln practiced law in the 1840s was moved to Dearborn, Michigan. It was bought by Henry Ford, and placed in the outdoor area next to the Henry Ford Museum.
There’s a glass enclosed case inside the Henry Ford Museum where a worn, black walnut rocking chair with red upholstery on the back and seat, is sitting. It was Lincoln’s favorite rocking chair and was taken to the President’s box by Mr. Ford (no kin to Henry) from his own apartment, so the president would be comfortable that night at Ford’s Theater. It was that rocking chair that Abe Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. It was held as evidence in the trial, and afterwards it ended up in the Smithsonian. The wife of a co-owner of the Ford Theater petitioned to reclaim it, and when she received it, she sold the rocking chair to an agent working for Henry Ford. The stain on the red cloth on the back is not blood, but is pomade, which is the hair oil that was used on men’s hair at that time!
The Presidential Train is even there! Another train belonging to President Harry Truman is also there!
There’s an exhibit that has a highway sign above it that reads 100 years of the Automobile in American Life — The 100 is on a interstate road sign, like it was the number of the highway!
It has cars everywhere! From the earliest Model T to the gangster cars. It even has a 30 foot Texaco Gas station sign and a bright red Texaco fuel truck. There’s a yellow Shell gas sign hanging from the ceiling, and a drive-in theater, Douglas Auto Theatre that has “Now showing — Car culture” on the theater sign.
You can’t have a museum of cars without McDonald’s! There a real sign, taken from a fast food place, that says “McDonald’s Hamburger — Over 100 million sold” — right above a car of the 1950’s. The price of the hamburger is on the sign and says 15 cents!
In the section of the Museum that is named, “The Heroes of the Sky”, there are some of the earliest airplanes all the way back to the biplanes, along with some that look like fighter planes.
Thanks to the lady who sent me the brochures and booklet on the Henry Ford Museum! I was fascinated by the many items that were in there!
We have most of our items from the Family Research Center moved to the new addition in the back of the History Museum, beside the Treasure House. So we are no longer at the only stoplight in McLean County! The internet isn’t working yet, so I can’t do any searching for your family tree yet!
If you are not a member of the McLean County History Museum and Family Research Center, you are invited to join us. We are a tax-exempt non-profit organization and we are supported by membership and donations. We bring in people from Daviess County, Newburgh, Indiana, Evansville, Nashville, Illinois, Missouri, and other places. The people spend money here, buying gas and asking where’s a good place to eat or to stay overnight?
The Treasure House is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. They have several little black dresses for sale that would be great for the prom or for date night! Stop by and check them out!